Rescue efforts on in Kerala. (Photograph: PTI)

BQuick On August 17: Top 10 News Stories In Under 10 Minutes

This is a roundup of the day’s stories in brief

1. The GDP Debate: Does The Old Series And New Series Data Match Up?

India’s statistical office shifted to a new GDP series, with a base year of 2011-12, in 2015. Since then, a niggling question has been whether data points under the old series and new series are comparable. And what the long term growth trajectory of the Indian economy has been.

Finally, the National Statistical Commission has released data on the new GDP series extending back to 1994-95, allowing a comparison of trends between the two series until 2013-14.

  • The two series show similar growth trends directionally.
  • However, there is a divergence of about 40 basis points on average.

Here’s what’s notable about the new data provided...

  • The highest GDP growth reported under the new series was in 2010-11 at 10.78 percent, shows the data.
  • After that the deceleration was sharp, with growth slipping to 6.96 percent in 2011-12 and further to 5.46 percent in 2012-13.
  • The lowest GDP growth rate reported by India under the new series was in 2000-01 at 3.66 percent, shows the data.

The highest GDP growth rate since 2013-14 has been 8.2 percent in 2015-16. Not surprisingly the data has taken on a political hue.

For more on what economists make of this new data read this.

2. Top NSE Officials ‘Facilitated’ Co-Location Fraud, Says SEBI

SEBI has alleged that former top-ranking executives of the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd., Ravi Narain, Chitra Ramkrishna and Subramanian Anand, “facilitated fraud and manipulation” by failing to take preventive and curative measures against brokerages gaining preferential access to the bourse’s servers.

  • The Securities and Exchange board of India, in a two-part final show-cause notice, named three brokerages.
  • They allegedly had a latency advantage (lower time for data to travel) over other NSE members which resulted in monetary gains for them, according to copies of the notices reviewed by Bloomberg Quint.
  • SEBI has charged Narain, Ramkrishna, Anand, Ravi Varanasi and Ravi Apte, among others, with fraud, violation of the SEBI Act and Securities Contract and Regulations Act, according to the notices.

To be sure, the show-cause notices don’t discuss any direct collusion or facilitation of illegal access by these NSE officials. But they point out that the NSE didn’t have a fair and equitable access policy, as admitted by Narain and Ramkrishna in their hearings with SEBI and documented in the notices.

By not taking preventive as well as curative measures proactively, Ravi Narain, Chitra Ramkrishna and Subramanian Anand facilitated fraud and manipulation by OPG.
SEBI Show-Cause Notice

Read the full story here.

3. Sensex, Nifty Clock Fourth Weekly Gain; U.S. Stocks Down

India's NSE Nifty 50 index rose to a fresh all-time closing high, as investors cheered strong earnings by Indian companies in April-June quarter.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.75 percent or 284 points to 37,947.88.
  • NSE Nifty 50 index climbed 0.75 percent or 86 points to record closing high of 11,470.75.
  • All sector gauges compiled by National Stock Exchange ended higher led by a 3.02 percent surge in the Nifty PSU Bank index.

For a detailed account of the India market action read this.

U.S. equities fell Friday, continuing their daily up-and-down pattern this week, as disappointing earnings guidance from U.S. chipmakers Nvidia Corp. and Applied Materials Inc. weighed on technology shares. Oil hovered just below $66 a barrel, the dollar slipped and Treasuries gained.
Read more on global markets here.

4. Kerala Rains Fury: Death Toll Rises To 324

Kerala is facing its worst flood in 100 years, said the state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The latest update puts the death toll at 324. Over two lakh people are homeless and currently living in relief camps.

  • The state is bracing for widespread showers through at least Monday .
  • A red alert has been sounded in all but one of the 14 districts of Kerala.
  • The Supreme Court today asked the state to explore the possibility of reducing the water level at the Mullaperiyar Dam by three feet.

As many as 23 bridges have collapsed, more than 211 landslides have been reported and about 10,000 kilometers of roads have been destroyed. Over 20,000 houses have been damaged, 180,000 farmers are affected and total damages are estimated at about 83.2 billion rupees ($1.2 billion), according to data on the website of the chief minister’s distress relief fund.

Follow our live blog for more updates on #KeralaSOS.

5. Former Prime Minister Vajpayee Cremated With Full State Honours

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was cremated with full state honours at Delhi’s Smriti Sthal. The last rites were performed by the former prime minister’s daughter Namita Bhattacharya.

  • Thousands took part in the procession that took Vajpayee's mortal remains from BJP headquarters to Smriti Sthal.
  • Prime Minister Modi and BJP President Amit Shah also walked with the crowds.
  • Leaders from across the political spectrum paid their respects including Rahul Gandhi and Nitish Kumar.
  • Leaders from neighboring countries also attended Vajpayee's funeral Including the King of Bhutan and former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

6. Exports Of Small Businesses Hit More By GST Than Note Ban

Exports of micro, small and medium enterprises were hit more by issues related to implementation of the Goods and Services Tax than demonetisation, according to the Mint Street Memo published by the Reserve Bank of India.

“MSME exports were affected more adversely by issues relating to the GST implementation due to a delay in refund of the upfront GST and input tax credit affecting cash-driven working capital requirements,” said the report.

For more on the impact on growth in credit to the MSME sector read this.

7. Most Companies Can Withstand The Ongoing Rupee Fall

Most domestic corporates, barring a few, can withstand the ongoing rupee plunge as the share of their dollar-linked earnings largely balances the share of their debt repayable in dollars, according to a Standard & Poor’s report.

“A few of them will be negatively affected, but not severe enough to impact their credit ratings.” 
S&P Report

Report highlights...

  • Regulated utilities like NTPC Ltd., Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. and NHPC Ltd. enjoy cost pass-through for currency depreciation or hedging costs.
  • Unregulated power companies are protected due to hedged forex bonds.
  • Delhi airport and Hyderabad airport will benefit from forex earnings as well as hedging.
  • For companies such as Tata Motors Ltd., the share of foreign currency in debt is broadly comparable to the share of foreign currency in earnings.
  • The debt-laden telecom sector can face further stress due to limited foreign exchange earnings combined with foreign currency debt.
  • Reliance Industries Ltd. can see rising leverage as 75 percent of its debt is dollar-denominated, while 85 percent of its earnings are in dollars. However, its entire cash balance is denominated in the rupee.
  • Oil companies like Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. will see a big boost to their profit
  • Similar will be the case of software exporters like Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Infosys Ltd. and Wipro Ltd.

8. Elon Musk In Tears. Says No One Reviewed His “Going Private” Tweet

Tesla Inc.’s stock price plunged on Friday after Elon Musk told the New York Times that no one saw or reviewed his tweet about the plan to take the company private before he posted it. The billionaire frequently teared up in an interview and discussed the personal strain of leading the electric-car maker, the newspaper said.

“Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”
Tweeted On Aug. 7

In an hourlong sit-down with the newspaper, Musk also detailed his frequent use of the sleep-aid Ambien -- a drug he’s discussed using before, and whose well-known side effects include sleepwalking. “It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien,” he told the newspaper.

Efforts are also under way to recruit an executive to take some pressure off Musk, the newspaper said, citing people briefed on the search.

If you have anyone who can do a better job, please let me know. They can have the job
Elon Musk, CEO and Chairman, Tesla (to NYT)

For more on what’s going on with Musk read this. For a timeline of Tesla's epic go-private saga read this.

9. India At 71: Policy Chasing Consequences, Causation In Casualty

All policy interventions for many years now have been consequence-facing. Have the causalities been addressed? Pain calls for an analgesic. But equally, pain is also a symptom of a larger malaise and that must be addressed, writes Shankkar Aiyar.

- The history of India’s political economy is replete with instances of paracetamol politics and policy.

- The distress of farmers does call for a soothing salve but equally, it demands solutions to long-pending issues.

- Every regime waxes about delegation of health and education policy and in practice, further centralisation follows.

- In rape cases, addressing the causation is obviously arduous and it is much more seductive to proffer new laws.

Unfortunately, the political class in India’s democracy has secularly missed the cause in the rush to address the froth about the consequence.

Read the full column here.

10. How Does a BMW Sports Sedan Double in Value Over 16 Years?

This is the car we’re talking about. If you want to more about how its value doubled click here.

BQuick On August 17: Top 10 News Stories In Under 10 Minutes